Tennis elbow, medically known as Lateral Epicondylitis, is an overuse injury. The painful area is located at the outside (lateral) area of the elbow. Lateral Epicondylitis occurs when the tendon that attaches to the lateral side of the elbow becomes inflamed. This condition can occur as a result of overuse due to repetitive forearm and elbow motions, and originally got its name from repeated swings of a tennis racquet. However, many cases of Tennis Elbow develop from other types of overuse activities.
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
Common Tennis Elbow symptoms include pain, swelling and tenderness at the bony protuberance at the outside of the elbow (a.k.a. the lateral epicondyle).
Tennis Elbow can usually be treated without surgery. Common treatments include anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and use of a tennis elbow band (or strap) for support. In some cases, a cortisone injection is given to relieve the painful symptoms. Often, a change of activity or instruction on proper elbow mechanics may effectively treat this condition.
Golfer’s Elbow is medically known as Medial Epicondylitis. Golfer’s Elbow is similar to Tennis Elbow because it is also due to inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the elbow. The difference between the two conditions is that Golfer’s Elbow affects the inside (or medial side) of the elbow. Although Golfer’ Elbow got its name from the elbow tendon most affected during the golf swing, it can develop as a result of other sports activities such as tennis, bowling, and baseball (where it is referred to as pitcher’s elbow).
Symptoms of Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s elbow causes pain at the inner (medial) area of the elbow (a.k.a. the medial epicondyle). Pain can also radiate to the inner side of the forearm. Bending the wrist, making a fist, or grasping objects can cause pain and/or weakness.
Golfer’s Elbow is rarely treated with the surgery. Common treatments include anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and use of an elbow support band (or strap). Less frequently, a cortisone injection can be given. As with Tennis Elbow, a change of activity or instruction on proper sports technique can effectively treat this condition.
Skier’s thumb is an injury of the ligament at the inner (ulnar) side of the thumb joint. The ligament that is injured is called the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). In this injury, the UCL sustains an acute stretch, or tear, when the thumb is abruptly forced backward. This injury often occurs as a result of a ski accident, due to a fall on the outstretched thumb — hence the name Skier’s Thumb.
Symptoms of Skier’s Thumb
- Pain, Swelling, Bruising,Tenderness at the base of the thumb, or in the space between thumb and index finger
- Inability to grasp or pinch due to thumb pain and weakness
Treatment may either consist of a splint or cast for several weeks to allow the ligament to heal. Then thumb exercises and physical therapy would be employed to help regain movement and strength of the thumb. However, the hand surgeon, with a thorough examination and specific x-ray views of the thumb, may determine that the ligament is completely torn. If the ligament tear is complete, surgical repair may be indicated to restore ligament integrity and strength.
Jammed (Mallet) Finger
A Jammed Finger occurs from a direct impact to the tip of the finger. This injury often occurs in sports such as basketball, volleyball and football.
Symptoms of a Jammed Finger
The common findings of a Jammed Finger are swelling, pain, bruising and tenderness. Another significant finding is a flexed posture of the fingertip with an associated loss of the ability to straighten (or extend) the fingertip. This is also known as a Mallet Finger injury.
In most cases, the fingertip can be treated with a period of splinting. The splint is applied to maintain the fingertip in the extended position until it heals. Healing usually takes about 6 weeks. An x-ray of the finger is done to determine if the bone has fractured. In more serious cases, surgical treatment of the Mallet Finger is required to restore normal fingertip posture.
Dr Tedd L Weisman is a highly skilled and experienced sports orthopedic surgeon who has helped hundreds of people recover from a variety of sports injuries and conditions.
If you think you have a sports related injury or condition and want to learn more about what can be done to treat your condition, please call Dr. Weisman’s office at 203-877-5522.